After being brought in by his alma mater in May 2011, Mel Pearson proved himself to be an inspired hire at Michigan Tech.
It’s hardly hyperbole to say that the longtime Michigan assistant coach worked wonders in his first head-coaching job last season in his old stomping grounds of Houghton, Mich..
The Huskies, fresh off a 2010-11 campaign in which they finished a pathetic 4-30-4 (2-24-2 WCHA), thrived by comparison in Pearson’s first year back at Tech, quadrupling the team’s win total from the season before and earning Pearson WCHA Coach of the Year honors.
This month marks the beginning of a new campaign, though, and all eyes will be on Houghton to see whether Tech can keep the ball rolling.
One big reason to think that might happen is that several of the Huskies’ biggest weapons from last season are back. David Johnstone (11 goals and 18 assists in 2011-12) had a superb freshman season, and he and junior Ryan Furne (12 G, 12 A) will be expected to lead the MTU attackers.
The defense will be led by upperclassman blueliners Daniel Sova (Jr. – 3 G, 10 A) and Steven Seigo (Sr. – 5 G, 17 A). Both were very dependable defensemen for Tech last season, and they will need to stay solid again this season if MTU is to break into the WCHA’s top six.
Despite the talent that the Huskies have returning, though, the biggest question marks have to do with what’s not coming back to Houghton. Tech lost Brett Olson (10 G, 20 A) and Jordan Baker (10 G, 18 A), two of the team’s three top scorers last season, to graduation.
Starting goaltender Josh Robinson (2.83 goals against average, .909 save percentage) is also gone. Kevin Genoe (2.71, .880) is back for his junior season, but he proved to be unsteady last season before eventually losing the No. 1 job to Robinson.
If Genoe can up his game, however, don’t be surprised if Pearson’s group improves upon its performance last season and finishes in the WCHA’s top half this time around. Home-ice advantage in the first round of the league playoffs will be one of the Huskies’ goals in 2012-13, and, if the Pearson revolution stays on course, Tech stands a great chance of playing at home in the third weekend of March.
Head coach: Mel Pearson (Michigan Tech ’81)
2011-12 record: 16-19-4 (11-13-4 WCHA)
Predicted finish in 2012-13: 7th
Home ice: MacInnes Student Ice Arena
-Average attendance in 2011-12: 2,898